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Looking back on a year of growth, success and lessons learned for BMC

24. October 2009

Santa Rosa

Coming into the 2009 season, the BMC Racing Team felt that they had progressed to a level which would see them perform to a very high standard both in America and in Europe.  The squad’s two pronged attack focused on gaining access to the world’s top races by being awarded Pro Continental and Wild Card status, while committing to building for the future through their U23 developmental program. 

That BMC did succeed in securing both Pro Continental and Wild Card status meant that they had the opportunity to race some of the most challenging events in the world.  The lessons learned at those events will be vital to the team’s immediate growth, while the support of the U23 program will be essential to BMC’s future talent.  Though a breakthrough victory in Europe may have by and large eluded the team, several domestic victories as well as a strong team spirit confirms the squad’s huge promise for the coming seasons.

Growing together
“The whole season was really good for the team,” Mathias Frank, one of BMC’s most successful riders of the year, explained.  “Throughout the year, the growth of the team was the best part of the experience for me.  In the beginning, the races weren’t going that great for us, but we still worked hard together and then found each other and grew very close together.”  Receiving the Pro Continental and Wild Card status for the second year in a row confirmed the team’s potential and meant that they could become eligible to receive invitations to Historical and Pro Tour events.  “This year was a year of expansion,” BMC co-owner Jim Ochowicz said.  “By receiving the Pro Continental and Wild Card status we were able to compete in races like the Tour of Romandie, Paris Roubaix and the Dauphiné Libéré.  Races like Roubaix and the Dauphiné were completely new to us, so the expansion was significant.”  With strong performances at Romandie and the Dauphiné among other events, Mathias Frank can feel confident in his progress as a stage racer for the team.  “I really wanted to take another step or two to improve my competitive level at those sorts of races,” Frank said.  “I am very happy at BMC and they have given me a lot of freedom to race my best at many of the top races this year.” 

Multiple victories as well as intangible successes
With domestic stage wins at Redlands, the Tour de Beauce, the Tour de Murrieta, and the Tour of Utah, and overall classification victories at Redlands and Battenkill, BMC can feel comfortable in their performance as one of the strongest teams on the domestic circuit.   However, securing top ten places in a number of the most difficult one week stage races in Europe perhaps gives a greater insight into the team’s overall potential.  “I think we lived up to expectations on the international circuit,” Ochowicz said.  “We got top ten in races like the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, the Tours of Wallonie and Ireland, and had some very strong performances in stages at Romandie and the Dauphiné.”  Mathias Frank provided many of the best results, including his overall victory at the GP Tell in Switzerland.  The U23 members of the team also provided several positive moments.  “We had a lot of success with the U23 riders like Cole House’s win at the GP Waregem and Chris Barton’s strong rides at the Tour de l’Avenir,” Ochowicz explained.  House’s victory played a role in building morale within the group.  “That was one of those wins that helped keep morale up and jump-start the team,” House agreed.  “The cool thing about riding for BMC is that they want to help me develop and really acclimate to Euro racing while keeping my confidence high.” 

The learning curve of a top team
“For me the highlight certainly was working for Jeff Louder at Redlands,” U23 success story Chris Barton explained.  “It was my first big race for the team and then we ended up winning two stages and the overall; that was pretty special.”  From the youngest member to the most seasoned veteran, for BMC the 2009 season offered a perfect proving ground for future exploits.  “Even in races like Paris Tours where we didn’t quite fulfil expectations, we can take the lessons away from those events and put them to good use in future seasons,” Directeur Sportif John Lelangue explained.  “This year we did a lot of tougher races and every one of them was important for our development as a team; now we can start thinking about next season and take the lessons from this year to be truly competitive next.”